Pierro in ominous form

Black Caviar is off the menu. Atlantic Jewel and Hay List won't be seen either. And cups fancy Lucas Cranach is another paddock dweller.

But there is still plenty to whet the appetite when spring campaigns roll into overdrive in the coming weeks.

Already we've seen Pierro bully horses who couldn't get near him during a triple-crown winning juvenile season.

Somehow Gai Waterhouse's arsenal looks to have strengthened still further after a phenomenal autumn.

But who are the horses to scribble down in that little black book for the rest of the carnival?

Pierro, for one.

The Lonhro colt doesn't appear to be any closer to stud duties after clicking over his unbeaten run to seven when cruising home in The Run To The Rose - even after a gut-busting two-year-old campaign.

"It was just over 12 months ago when Helmet was favourite - and being touted as a good thing - for the Cox Plate," Betfair's Mat Thompson said.

"Pierro would carry Helmet and you can have $6 with Betfair in ante post betting. He's also $2.46 for the Caulfield Guineas."

Thompson poses a good question: how is anyone going to get near Pierro in the Caulfield Guineas?

TAB Sportsbet has listed the Lonhro colt a $2 favourite to win the Caulfield Guineas ahead of stablemates Proisir and Kabayan.

The Cox Plate? Well that could be an entirely different matter if Waterhouse's seven-time Group 1 winner More Joyous ($6.50) has any say in the matter.

After a stellar Sydney campaign, More Joyous sits above any other Australian-trained galloper with Timeform.

"More Joyous would be by default at 128, and Americain is 129 off his Melbourne Cup run from last year but he hasn't run anything like that since," Timeform expert Gary Crispe said.

"Then you've got Pierro at 127 and horses like Buffering and Rain Affair on 126."

But Crispe has picked out New Zealand-trained Ocean Park as a horse to warm to during the Melbourne carnival.

He predicted the Rosehill Guineas, in which Gary Hennessy's galloper swept from the back of the field to beat all but Laser Hawk, to be a strong form reference for the spring.

"He won first-up in the Challenge Stakes on Saturday which I thought was a pretty impressive performance," Crispe said.


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